Imatges de pÓgina

limbs and yawned. He was very pale, and grated on my taste, and I answered sharply the dark rings around his eyes seemed that never having read Eugène Sue's novel somehow to have grown darker than be-(which I really had not at that time) I fore. The nervous twitching of his fingers could not judge of the comparison; but and the quivering motion of his eyelids that my abhorrence of the horrible insect were renewed, and I could not be mistaken arose from the superstition of its being when I fancied that his grim friend on the gifted with the power of scenting blood, swing-board looked anxiously towards him and that its presence conveyed a warning once or twice, as be made a sign towards of death or dire misfortune to those the end of the road where the Three Acacias honoured by its visit. “But of course you were now visible, tossing their feathery are no believer in such things," added I, arms to the sky, and seeming to throw on observing the start with which the youth light as well as shadow on the space where had listened to the words. they stood.

" Perhaps not-perhaps not,” he gasped For me, however, all interest was ab- forth, turning deadly pale and clutching sorbed in my search after the bluebottle me by the arm with a force of which I fly. It was nowhere to be seen. It had should scarcely have deemed him capable, disappeared, scared away, no doubt, by the judging by his languid movements and apnoise.“ It must have flown through the parently feminine weakness. And then bewindow of the coucou,” thought I. And fore I had recovered from the astonishment I cannot tell what a relief it was to my into which his sudden action had thrown heated imagination to find that the creature me, he had withdrawn his grasp, exclaiming was gone.

in a tone of childish triumph, " And look It was not till this conviction had been you, my friend, if there be aught of truth fully impressed upon me that I turned again in the belief, I shall not be alone to suffer, to the young man to offer my timid excuses for see, you too must be destined to share for the apparent rudeness of which I had in the misfortune.” been guilty. I told him the cause of my With a hoarse mocking laugh he flung brusque attack, and apologised in the himself back into his seat, pointing to my choicest terms I could command for the shoulder, where my eyes, following his shock I must have occasioned to his nerves. gesture, beheld with horror the loathsome But the youth was evidently too much pre-insect which had occasioned all this turmoil occupied, or too indifferent at that mo- actually standing there, seeming to mock ment to take offence. He turned a dull me with its cool impudence, and its unconheavy gaze upon me, and said:

sciousness of all the repulsion with which I Ah, yes! Well I don't wonder—that gazed upon it. I started up in dismay and cursed bluebottle fly! I thought I saw shook myself with violence, brushing down the coachman crush it with the butt-end the sleeve of my blouse with many an exclaof his whip! Already did Bras-de-Fer," mation of disgust. As my rough motion and he pointed with his thumb to the man dislodged it, I could distinctly hear its with the green-baize bag sitting on the shrill trumpet and the droning buzz which swing-board, “declare it must have been followed, even above the clatter of the the devil himself to have pursued us all the horse's hoofs and the creaking of the coucou. way from Paris only to get us kicked into The youth laughed aloud with a kind of the ditch. The devil

, you know, whose fiendish delight at the excitement I dismemoirs were written by Eugène Sue. played, then resumed his listless look, and Don't you remember? In the diligence, spoke no more. Once he raised the striped where the abbé tries in vain to divert his curtain at his back and gazed out towards thoughts from the lady at his side, and is the Three Acacias, then dropping it, sudprevented from perusing his breviary by denly turned away, as a slight colour over. the persecutions of a bluebottle fly, every spread his cheek and brow, dispelling for a time he tries to fix his attention on his moment its death-like pallor. Was it the prayers ? Bras-de-Fer never meant to com- excitement of pleasure or of pain? The pare my innocence with that of the abbé, anticipation of meeting with his riotous you know ; quite the reverse. He said that companions, or annoyance at being comthe devil would never have needed to dis- pelled to exertion while still overcome with guise himself for my temptation, if a pretty the fatigue and languor, which I felt sure girl had sat beside me !". And he uttered a were the consequence of the orgies of the weak tuneless titter, the very senility of previous night? vice before even its powers were developed. But I did not pause long in further con

The foolish laughter without mirth | templation of my fellow.traveller. To re

main thus, confined within that narrow During nearly the whole of the next century,
space, with the idea of the continued pre- in the reigns of the two Jameses and the
sence of the hateful fly, was impossible. two Charleses, ballads of Robin Hood,
I beheld it everywhere. I followed the mostly printed in black letter, were hawked
trail of the obnoxions creature amid the about the villages, and sung in a kind of
tracery of the pattern of the oil-skin lining, recitative. A collection of these was gra-
detecting its hated presence amongst the dually made, and published under the title
folds of the striped curtains, discovering of Robin Hood's Garland; numerous edi.
its hideous form in every little shadow, tions were afterwards printed, introduced
starting with nausea whenever the breeze by what professed to be the life of the hero.
uplifted the calico, and shuddering with With the Geste and the Garland together,
disgust at the rustling sound it made. My and other ballads and stories from time to
brain got distracted and my ears filled with time ferreted out by Ritson, Hunter, Stukely,
its imaginary hum, until at last, unable Cunningham, Planché, Gutch, Chappell,
to collect my thoughts amid this torture of and other investigators, the Robin Hood
the nerves created by my fancy, I called literature has became somewhat consider-
aloud to Tony to stop the vehicle, and with able.
out a word of courtesy to my fellow- What, then, are these ballads and tales ?
traveller, I jumped to the ground without What do they tell us ? The central figure
so much as alighting on the iron step, and of the whole of them is a bold outlaw, an
plunged blindly into the wooded dell that expert bowman, who is virtually lord of
bordered the alley, up which we were Sherwood Forest, and the terror of nobles,
driving to the rising ground, where stood magistrates, and priests; but he is kind to
the Three Acacias.


and a respecter of women. The foresters and villagers would rather shield

him from the authorities, than aid in capBOLD ROBIN HOOD.

turing him. He gradually surrounds him.

self with a body of companions, among During a period reaching nearly four whom are Little John, Will Scarlet, Friar hundred years back, the press has put forth Tuck, Will Stukely, Arthur - a - Bland, many ballads, tales, narratives, and other George-a-Green, and a fair damsel named compositions relating to that redoubtable Maid Marian; and one or other of these but mysterious personage, Robin Hood. It is generally associated with him in the was not very long after the introduction of exploits to which the ballads relate. printing into England that Wynkyn de Robin Hood and Little John, we are told Worde, about three hundred and eighty in one ballad, first encountered each other years ago, printed the Lytel Geste of Robyn in this fashion. Robin, a young outlaw of Hode-the forerunner of a long series, some twenty summers, was roaming the varying in importance from single broad- forest one day, when he met John Little, sheets to goodly volumes. But the manu- a strapping fellow seven feet high ; they scripts are of much earlier date. The earliest met while crossing a wooden plank over a mention of these ballads, in any work at stream; neither would give way; so they present known to exist, is in Robert Long- fought with quarter-staves till John fairly lande's Vision of Piers Plowman, written knocked over Robin into the stream. The in the reign of Edward the Third. Piers outlaw admired the pluck of his conqueror; states very frankly, that although he is not and the two henceforth became fast friends. quite perfect in the Paternoster or Lord's Will Scarlet was added to the band by Prayer, he knows the song of Robyn Hode. some equally unexpected adventure; and The Lytel Geste, above mentioned, seems one of the ballads tells how Robin won the to have been a stringing together of songs heart of Will Stukely by rescuing him and tales long current among the people, from a sheriff's officer. As to Friar Tuck, some written down, some merely repeated he is certainly one of the most remarkable from mouth to mouth. Four hundred and members of the community. We are told sixty stanzas are devoted to a narration | all about him in a ballad of forty-one of the daring, odd, shrewdly - devised verses (they were not frightened at the achievements of Robin, so linked as to fur- length of their songs in those days) : nish a kind of metrical biography. Addi

In the summer time, when leaves grow green, tions were made during the Tudor times; And flowers are fresh and gay, and it is known that a pastoral comedy

Robin Hood and his merry men called Robin Hood was played in London

Were all disposed to play. towards the close of Elizabeth's reign. They had a friendly bout at archery, and made some good shots; whereupon Will As to Maid Marian, she seems to have Scarlet declared that he knew a curtell fallen in love with the bero while yet unfriar who could beat any of them. What known to him, and to have adopted a mode this word curtell meant is not now quite of revealing her attachment quite orthodox certain. Some suppose it to have referred in romance and poetry: to a cordelier or corded friar, in allusion to A bonny fair maid of a noble degree, the cord or rope worn round the waist by With a hey, down, down a down down,

Maid Marian called by name, Franciscans, wherewith to flagellate them.

Lived in the north, of excellent worth, selves; whereas others suggest that it refers For she was a gallant dame. to a friar who wore a curtailed or short She went to Sherwood in male attire, met tunic. Be this as it may, Robin set forth Robin, contrived to fight and to be worsted, to seek this curtell friar, who was known to yield and to confess, and she became, we as Friar Tack of Fountains Abbey. They will suppose, Mrs. Robin Hood. met, and the contest between them was of One of the ballads relates to Little John so marvellous a kind that one might wonder and the Four Beggars, showing how he prehow the ballad ever obtained credence, tended on one occasion to go begging, and were it not that the appetite for the mar- met with four hale beggars, who professed vellous is known to have been singularly to be dumb, deaf, blind, and crippled rekeen in those days. Suffice it to say that spectively; how he exposed them, and the strength, skill, and boldness of the punished them for their deceit by robbing friar quite charmed Robin, who induced them of three hundred pounds. Another, him to become a member of the forest band. a ballad of fifty-eight verses, narrates how Another, Allen-a-Dale, was won over by a Robin Hood, Little John, and Will Scarlet kindness rendered to him on an occasion of won a victory over the Prince of Aragon doleful sensitiveness. One day,

and two giants, and how the contest ended Robin Hood in the forest stood,

by Will marrying a princess who had been All under the greenwood tree,

rescued from peril. In Robin Hood and the when he saw a gaily-attired young man Shepherd, told in twenty-seven verses, a pass by, singing right merrily. On the shepherd gets the better both of Robin and following day he again saw him, but de- of John in turn, and is consequently held in pressed with woe. Robin accosted him, high esteem by Robin. In Robin Hood's and asked the meaning of the change. Golden Prize we learn in what fashion he The youth stated that on the previous robbed two priests of five hundred pounds. day he was going to be wedded to his Priests and bishops he seems always to betrothed, but found that her cruel father have regarded as fair prey. Witness was forcing her to marry a rich old Robin Hood and the Bishop : baron. Robin started forth for the

Come, gentlemen all, and listen awhile, church, and got there just in the nick of With a hey down, down, and a down; time. He ascertained that the youth and And a story to you I'll unfold. the maiden loved each other, whereupon

I'll tell you how Robin Hood served the bishop,

When he robbed him of all his gold. he blew his horn, and his merry men (who

He got him into the forest by a ruse, always seem to have been close at hand whenever he wanted them) came into the tied him to a tree, emptied his pouch, and church, and compelled the priest to marry Hood and the Bishop of Hereford, another

then made him sing a mass. In Robin the maiden to Allen-a-Dale.

Robin was evidently fond of fighting, for ballad, the bishop is made to dance in his he liked the men who thrashed him as well boots after being despoiled. Robin Hood

dd prank, as those who were thrashed by him. Ar- and the Butcher tells us of an

in which the hero went to Nottingham, thur-a-Bland, the tanner, furnished a case

pretended to be a butcher in the marketin point. A rattling ballad tells us that

place, and created quite a ferment among In Nottingham there lives a jolly tanner, With a hey, down, down, and a down!

the fraternity :
His name is Arthur-a-Bland ;

But when he sold his meat so fast,
There is ne'er a squire in Nottinghamshire

No butcher by him could thrive;
Dare bid bold Arthur stand.

For he sold more meat for a pony,
It chanced that Robin and Arthur met in

Than others could do for five ! the forest ; a small incitement was sufficient In Robin Hood and the Jolly Tinker, to bring on a contest, in which Arthur was we have one of the many instances in the victor. It then transpired that he was which a good fight leads to fast friendship. à kinsman of Little John; he joined the A certain tinker was armed with a warrant band, and Robin, John, and Arthur danced to capture Robin, who was not aware of the Three Merry Men's Dance.

this fact at the first encounter :



And as he came to Nottingham,

tend to the ecclesiastics is clear enough; A tinker he did meet, And seeing him a lusty blade,

his exploits show this, as does a couplet in He kindly did him greet.

one of the ballads : When Robin found on what errand the Theyse byshoppes and theyse archebyshoppes, tinker was

Ye shall them bete and bynde ! engaged, they settled the matter with the quarter-staff; the result Nevertheless, in his own queer way he had was, as usual, an addition to the members a kind of piety. A very ancient ballad of the band. The Pindar, or pound-keeper, contains four stanzas which notice this chaof Wakefield was another hero :

racteristic in a curious way: “ In Wakefield their lives a jolly pindar,

“ This is a mery mornynge,” said litulle Johne, In Wakefield all on the green,

“Be hym that dyed on tre, There is neither knight nor squire,” said the pindar,

A more merry man than I am one “Nor baron so bold, nor baron so bold,

Lives not in Christiante." Dare make a trespass in the town of Wakefield,

“Pluck up thy hert, my dere mayster, But his pledge goes to the penfold.”

Litulle Johne gan say,

“ And think it is a ful fayre time, Robin Hood, Little John, and Will Scar.

In a mornynge of May.” let, in some way contravened this rule ;

“ Ze on thyoge greves me," seid Robyne wherenpon the pindar boldly grappled “And does my hert mych woo, with all three :

That I may not so solemn day

To mas nor matyns goo.
He lean'd his back fast unto a tree,
And his foot against a thorn,

“ Hit is a fourtnet and more," said hee,
And there he fought a long summer day,

“Syn I my Sauyour see ;
And a summer's day so long,

To-day will I to Ñotyngham,
Till their swords in their broad bucklers

With the myght of mylde Marye.”
Were broken close to their hands.

He went, but the seriousness of his errand Robin so admired the pindar, that he in- did not prevent him from playing one of duced him to join the band. One of the his pranks in the city. ballads declares that Robin Hood slew in

Among the persons with whom Robin, an encounter fifteen men who had doubted

or some of his men, came in contact in his courage; and this, too, when he was various adventures, were the Abbot of St. only as many years old. It opens

thus :

Mary, the Potter, the Beggar, the Stranger, Robin Hood was a tall young man,

the Ranger, Sir Richard, and the King, all Of fifteen winters old, Derry ding dong!

forming the subjects of distinct ballads. And Robin Hood was a proper young man,

The king, we are told, was the means of Of courage stout and bold,

bringing the outlaw back to a more regular Hey derry ding dong!

course of life. Going to Sherwood Forest, On one occasion he met a lady weeping with a view of seeing this redoubtable On inquiring into the cause, he found that Robin Hood, and accompanied by a force three of her sons were to be executed at sufficient to insure a capture, the king Nottingham for killing the king's deer. graciously offered pardon on conditions This was quite enough for him; he re- which Robin accepted. More than one of solved to effect a rescue. Proceeding to the ballads tell of the hero's death. He the city he sought an interview with the fell sick, and went to a religious house in sheriff, professed to be earnest in the king's Yorkshire, the abbess of which was a kinscause, and asked to be permitted to fill the woman of his. She bled him, and allowed office of hangman, with the only further him to bleed to a fatal degree-treacherprivilege of being allowed to make one ously, as the songs assert. He longed to blast on his horn. The sheriff assented, see the greenwood once again, and shoot the arrangements were made, Robin blew

one more arrow before he died. A parahis horn, whereupon a hundred and ten of phrase on the old rhymes has been prettily his merry men suddenly appeared. The rendered by Bernard Barton : sheriff, thus knowing who was his formid

They rais'd him on his couch, and set able visitor, speedily consented to let the

The casement open wide ; three prisoners escape :

Once more, with vain and fond regret,

Fair Nature's face he eyed. “ Oh take them, oh take them,” says great master sheriff,

With kindling glance and throbbing heart, “Oh take them along with thee ;

One parting look he cast, For there's ne'er a man in all Nottingham,

Sped on its way the feather'd dart, Can do the like of thee !"

Sank back, and breath'd his last.

And where it fell they dug his grave, It is noteworthy that Robin, in the midst

Beneath the greenwood tree: of his wild achievements, was credited with Meet resting-place for one so brave, a reverence for the religious services of the

So lawless, frank, and free! church. That this reverence did not ex- In reference to the music to which these


singularly interesting old ballads were set, twelfth and thirteenth centuries, Robin Mr. Chappell, the experienced author of the Hood and Maid Marian often appear as volumes on the Popular Music of the Olden the names of a shepherd and his rustic Time, finds that it was very plain and lover. simple, easy to sing-a necessary condition There is, however, a greater concurrence in such very lengthy compositions. Robin of testimony to support a belief that a man Hood and the Bishop of Hereford was in named Robin Hood really lived some six two-four time; Robin Hood and the centuries ago, and really disported himself Friar in six-eight time, and in the minor as an outlaw in Sherwood Forest. The mode; and so was Robin Hood and the Reverend Joseph Hunter has found, in a Pindar of Wakefield. On examining many household book of the court of Edward the of the ballads, in the second line of which Second, an entry to the effect that one there comes a “hey down-a-down down," or Robyn Hode was among the vadlets, valets, something of the kind, Mr. Chappell finds varlets, or porters of the chamber in the that they were all, or nearly all, set to the king's palace. This is regarded as giving same tune. This was the case with Robin some support to the account which forms Hood and the Stranger, Robin Hood and the burden of many of the tales and the Beggar, Robin Hood and the Four ballads, and which may be thus summaBeggars, Robin Hood and the Bishop, rised: That Robin Hood was born at Robin Hood's Chase, Robin Hood and the Locksley in the time of Henry the Second ; Tanner, Robin Hood and the Butcher, that his real name was Robert Fitzoothes, Robin Hood and the Ranger, and Robin some say Earl of Huntingdon; that he was Hood and Maid Marian. In many of the a wild extravagant youth, who got into debt ballads the last line is repeated as a chorus. and difficulties; that he became an outlaw

And now, what are we to think of all in Sherwood Forest, where he surrounded this ? Did Robin Hood ever really live ? himself with the companions already named; Was he a reality, or only a myth? There that he enlisted all he could of those who are writers who refuse to give credence to were brave and bold, and good archers; that his actual existence. It has been urged, he and his bowmen, something like a hunby one or other of these critics, that the dred in number, made war against every origin of the ballads may be accounted for one except the poor and the weak, and on other grounds. It has been urged that moved about from place to place when Robin Hood was not a patronymic, but a attacked; that the forest supplied them purely descriptive name, applied to the ideal with venison and firewood, while the vilpersonification of a class—the outlaws of the lagers were made to furnish other necesolden time. Robin's fame extended to Scot- saries and comforts, either by purchase or land and France as well as throughout Eng- by more summary means; that the king land. Eugène Sue, in one of his novels, gives pardoned Robin, after an interview ; that the name of Robin de Bois to a mysterious Robin was quietly in the royal service for character employed by French mothers to a considerable time; and that he died at frighten their children. Grimm, in his Kirtley Nunnery, Yorkshire, in the reign German mythology, speaks of the hood or of Henry the Third. There is, it is true, hoodiken assigned in fairy tales to Robin an awkward chronological hitch here; beGoodfellow and other elves; and it is in cause if Robin Hood died in the time of ferred that Robin Hood may be simply Henry the Third, he could not well have Robin o' the Hood, not a veritable man, been the Robin who lived in the days of bat a mischievous denizen of fairyland. Edward the Second. Where the arrow fell Some settle down into the prosaic explana- resulting from poor Robin's last shot was tion that, as there were in the Middle Ages on a spot not far from Wakefield ; and antimany Englishmen with the surname of quaries agree that some years ago there Hood, and many with the Christian name was really a grave at that spot, with sods of Robin, the chances are in favour of beneath the head and feet ends, and a stone there having been some one man with both bearing the inscription or epitaph: names; but that this need not involve a

Here undernead dis laitl stean belief in the stories and ballads as being

Laiz Robert Earl of Huntingdon. true narratives.

Ne'er arcir vez az hie sa geud,
A Gloucestershire writer

An pipl kauld im Robyn Heud. states that, in that county, the peasants

Sich utlawes az hi an iz men often pronounce W like H, converting

Vil England nivir si agen. Wood into Hood, and Robin's Wood Hill One thing is pretty certain. Neither antiinto Robin Hood's Hill. Hallam says that, quary or etymologist will ever kill Robin in the Provençal pastoral poems of the Hood. He will live in popular belief as

« AnteriorContinua »